Landscape Ecology

, Volume 22, Issue 7, pp 1019–1032 | Cite as

Are hedgerows the route to increased farmland small mammal density? Use of hedgerows in British pastoral habitats

  • Merryl Gelling
  • David W. Macdonald
  • Fiona Mathews
Research Article

Abstract

Linear habitats are becoming increasingly common as a consequence of habitat fragmentation, and may provide the sole habitat for some species. Hedgerows are linear features that can vary substantially in structure and quality. Having surveyed 180 hedgerows, in four locations, and sampled their small mammal communities we examined the effect of physical hedgerow attributes on the abundance of small mammal species. Using three elements of landscape structure, we explored whether variation was best explained by the Random Sample Hypothesis (that small islands represent a random sample of those species populating larger areas), or by the Fragmentation Hypothesis (that species abundance will decrease with a loss of habitat area). We tested the relationship between the relative abundance of small mammals and 1. hedgerow connectivity; 2. total habitat availability and 3. local habitat complexity. We then explored the predictive power of combinations of these habitat variables. Connectivity was a positive predictor of wood mice Apodemus sylvaticus, and hedgerow gappiness was a negative predictor of bank voles Clethrionomys glareolus. The total amount of habitat available (hedgerow width, height and length) was a positive indicator of total small mammal biomass. These results support the Fragmentation Hypothesis that species abundance and distribution decrease with a loss of habitat area. The preservation of linear and associated habitats may therefore be important in maintaining metapopulations of the species we studied.

Keywords

Apodemus flavicollis Apodemus sylvaticus Clethrionomys glareolus Fragmentation Habitat corridors Linear habitat Population density Microtus agrestis 

References

  1. Alibhai SK, Gipps JHW (1985) The population dynamics of bank voles. Symp Zool Soc Lond 55:277–305Google Scholar
  2. Alibhai SK, Gipps JHW (1991a) Bank vole. In: Harris S (ed) The handbook of British mammals. Blackwell Scientific Publishing, Oxford Google Scholar
  3. Alibhai SK, Gipps JHW (1991b) Field vole. In: Harris S (ed) The handbook of British mammals. Blackwell Scientific Publishing, Oxford Google Scholar
  4. Andrén H (1994) Effects of habitat fragmentation on birds and mammals in landscapes with different proportions of suitable habitat: a review. Oikos 71:355–366CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Barr CJ, Gillespie MK (2000) Estimating hedgerow length and pattern characteristics in Great Britain using countryside survey data. J Environ Manage 60:23–32CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bennett AF (1987) Conservation of mammals within a fragmented forest environment: the contributions of insular biogeography and autecology. In: Saunders DA, Arnold GW, Burbidge AA, Hopkins AJM (eds) Nature conservation: the role of remnants of native vegetation. Surrey Beatty and Sons, Chipping Norton, Australia, pp 41–52Google Scholar
  7. Boone GC, Tinklin R (1988) Importance of hedgerow structure in determining the occurrence and density of small mammals. Asp Appl Biol 16:73–78Google Scholar
  8. Boonstra R, Craine ITM (1996) Natal nest location and small mammals tracking with a spool and line technique. Can J Zool 64:1034–1036CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bright PW (1993) Habitat fragmentation – problems and predictions for British mammals. Mammal Rev 23:101–111Google Scholar
  10. Clements DK, Tofts RJ (1992) Hedgerow evaluation and grading system (HEGS). A methodology for the ecological survey, evaluation and grading of hedgerows. Countryside Planning and Management, UKGoogle Scholar
  11. Connor EF, McCoy ED (1979) The statistics and biology of the species-area relationship. Am Nat 113:791–833CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. CPRE (1999) Hedging your bets: is hedgerow legislation gambling with our heritage? Council for the protection of rural England, UKGoogle Scholar
  13. DEFRA (2005a) Entry level stewardship handbook. Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, London Google Scholar
  14. DEFRA (2005b) The countryside stewardship scheme: traditional farming in the modern environment. Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, London Google Scholar
  15. Edwards K, Leighton D, Llewellyn P (2006) Hedgerows and the historic landscape: a case study from south Gower. Br Wildl 17(4):260–269Google Scholar
  16. Fitzgibbon CD (1997) Small mammals in farm woodlands: the effects of habitat, isolation and surrounding land-use patterns. J Appl Ecol 34:530–539CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Flowerdew JR (1985) The population dynamics of wood mice and yellow-necked mice. Symp Zool Soc Lond 55:315–332Google Scholar
  18. Flowerdew JR (1991) Wood mouse. In: Harris S (ed) The handbook of British mammals. Blackwell Scientific Publications, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  19. Flowerdew JR (1993) Mice and voles. Whittet Books, LondonGoogle Scholar
  20. Green RE, Osborne PE, Sears EJ (1994) The distribution of passerine birds in hedgerows during the breeding-season in relation to characteristics of the hedgerow and adjacent farmland. J Appl Ecol 31:677–692CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gurnell J (1985) Woodland rodent communities. Symp Zool Soc Lond 55:377–411Google Scholar
  22. Gurnell J, Flowerdew JR (1990) Live trapping small mammals: a practical guide. Mammal Society, LondonGoogle Scholar
  23. Haddad NM, Bowne DR, Cunningham A, Danielson BJ, Levey DJ, Sargent S, Spira T (2003) Corridor use by diverse taxa. Ecology 84:609–615CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Haila Y (1983) Land birds on northern islands: a sampling metaphor for insular colonization. Oikos 41:334–351CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Haila Y (1990) Towards an ecological definition of an island: a north-west European perspective. J Biogeogr 17:561–568CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hanski I (1999) Metapopulation ecology. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  27. Hinsley SA, Bellamy PE (2000) The influence of hedge structure, management and landscape context on the value of hedgerows to birds: a review. J Environ Manage 60:33–49CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Joyce B, Williams G, Woods A (1988) Hedgerows: still a cause for concern. RSPB Conserv Rev 2:34–37Google Scholar
  29. Kotzageorgis GC, Mason CF (1996) Range use, determined by telemetry, of yellow-necked mice (Apodemus flavicollis) in hedgerows. J Zool 240:773–777CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kotzageorgis GC, Mason CF (1997) Small mammal populations in relation to hedgerow structure in an arable landscape. J Zool 242:425–434CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Macdonald DW, Baker S (2005) The state of Britain’s mammals 2005. Mammals Trust, UK, LondonGoogle Scholar
  32. Macdonald DW, Johnson PJ (1995) The relationship between bird distribution and the botanical and structural characteristics of hedges. J Appl Ecol 32:492–505CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Macdonald DW, Johnson PJ (2000) Farmers and the custody of the countryside: trends in loss and conservation of non-productive habitats 1981–1998. Biol Conserv 94:221–234CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Macdonald DW, Tattersall FH, Service KM, Firbank LG, Feber RE (2006) Mammals, agri-environment schemes and set-aside – what are the putative benefits? Mammal Rev (in press) Google Scholar
  35. Mallorie HC, Flowerdew JR (1994) Woodland small mammal population ecology in Britain – a preliminary review of the mammal-society survey of wood mice Apodemus-sylvaticus and bank voles Clethrionomys-glareolus, 1982–87. Mammal Rev 24:1–15Google Scholar
  36. Mathews F, Macdonald DW, Taylor GM, Gelling M, Norman RA, Honess PE, Foster R, Gower CM, Varley S, Harris A, Palmer S, Hewinson G, Webster JP (2006) Bovine Tuberculosis (Mycobacterium bovis) in British farmland wildlife: the importance to agriculture. Proc R Soc B 273:357–365Google Scholar
  37. Montgomery WI (1978) Studies on the distributions of Apodemus sylvaticus (L.) and A. Flavicollis (Melchior) in Britain. Mammal Rev 8:177–184Google Scholar
  38. Montgomery WI (1991) Yellow-necked mouse. In: Harris S (ed) The handbook of British mammals. Blackwell Scientific Publishing, Oxford Google Scholar
  39. Montgomery WI, Dowie M (1993) The distribution and population regulation of the wood mouse Apodemus-sylvaticus on field boundaries of pastoral farmland. J Appl Ecol 30:783–791CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Morris P (ed) (1982) The country life book of natural history of the British Isles. Hamlyn Publishing Group Ltd., London, 6–7Google Scholar
  41. Orrock JL, Danielson BJ, Brinkerhoff RJ (2004) Rodent foraging is affected by indirect, but not by direct, cues of predation risk. Behav Ecol 15(3):433–437CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Pollard E, Relton J (1970) A study of small mammals in hedges and cultivated fields. J Appl Ecol 7:549–557CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Pollard E, Hooper MD, Moore NW (1974) Hedges. Collins, LondonGoogle Scholar
  44. Rackham O (1997) History of the countryside. Phoenix Giant, LondonGoogle Scholar
  45. Russ JM, Montgomery WI (2002) Habitat associations of bats in Northern Ireland: implications for conservation. Biol Conserv 108:49–58CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Saunders DA, Hobbs RJ, Margules CR (1991) Biological consequences of ecosystem fragmentation: a review. Conserv Biol 5:18–32CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Schweiger W, Diffendorfer J, Holt RD, Pierotti R (2000) The interaction of habitat fragmentation, plant, and small mammal succession in an old field. Ecol Monogr 70:383–400CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Soule ME, Terbough J (1999) Continental conservation: scientific foundations of regional reserve networks. Island Press, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  49. Tattersall FH, Macdonald DW, Hart BJ, Johnson P, Manley W, Feber R (2002) Is habitat linearity important for small mammal communities on farmland? J Appl Ecol 39:643–652CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Tattersall FH, Macdonald DW, Hart BJ, Manley WJ, Feber RE (2001) Habitat use by wood mice (Apodemus sylvaticus) in a changeable arable landscape. J Zool 255:487–494CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Tattersall FH, Macdonald DW, Hart BJ, Manley WJ (2004) Balanced dispersal or source-sink – do both models describe wood mice in farmed landscapes? Oikos 106:536–550CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Tew TE, Todd IA, Macdonald DW (1994) Field margins and small mammals. BCPC Monograph 58 field margins-integrating agriculture and conservation, 85–94Google Scholar
  53. Tew TE, Todd IA, Macdonald DW (2000) Arable habitat use by wood mice (Apodemus sylvaticus). 2. Microhabitat. J Zool 250:305–311CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Todd IA, Tew TE, Macdonald DW (2000) Arable habitat use by wood mice (Apodemus sylvaticus). 1. Macrohabitat. J Zool 250:299–303CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Tofts RJ, Clements DK (1994) The development and testing of HEGS, a methodology for the evaluation and grading of hedgerows. BCPC Monogr 58:277–282Google Scholar
  56. Wilcox BA (1980) Insular ecology and conservation. In: Wilcox BA (ed) Conservation biology: an evolutionary-ecological perspective. Sinauer, Sunderland, MA, pp 95–117Google Scholar
  57. Wilcox BA, Murphy DD (1985) Conservation strategy: the effects of fragmentation on extinction. Am Nat 125:879–887CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Merryl Gelling
    • 1
  • David W. Macdonald
    • 1
  • Fiona Mathews
    • 1
  1. 1.Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Department of ZoologyUniversity of OxfordTubney, OxonUK

Personalised recommendations